This novel is concerned with the problem of honesty in personal relationships, in political life, and in the church. Most of the events described occur in Washington D.C. during the Depression and in the pre-war Thirties.
Some of the characters struggle to sustain their personal integrity. One disastrously manages life by allowing fantasy to prevail. Another makes a living by means of innuendo and slander. Some by nature are evasive and self-deceiving, while one individual is honest through and through and knows no other way.
The book offers snapshot views of Washington life (for example, a White House reception, the celebration of the transatlantic flight of Lindbergh) and takes the reader to a hearing of the House UnAmerican Activities Committee.